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Travel News

420 stranded Nigerians evacuated from Saudi - PUNCH

FEBRUARY 05, 2021

BY  Adelani Adepegba, Abuja

Another batch of 420 Nigerian returnees from Saudi Arabia, comprising 27 children and 393 adults arrived the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, on Wednesday.

The returnees were received by senior government officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, and other relevant agencies.

A statement from the foreign affairs ministry on Thursday said the Director Consular and Legal Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Akinremi Bolaji, urged the returnees to cooperate with the government, “as provisions have been made for their basic needs during the mandatory 14-day isolation in line with COVID-19 protocol.”

A total of 384 Nigerians had arrived at the Abuja airport penultimate Thursday.

The returnees included 300 males, 83 females and one infant.

The returnees were among over 600 Nigerians held in Saudi Arabia for migration reasons.

Emirates Explains Rapid COVID-19 Test - THISDAY

FEBRUARY 05, 2021

Emirates Airlines has said that it introduced the rapid COVID-19 test for passengers travelling from Nigeria as part of efforts to control the spread of the virus.

“As part of the UAE Government’s ongoing efforts to ensure a safe and healthy environment in its fight against the COVID pandemic, a range of health requirements and testing protocols have been put in place. Similarly, to the measures taken by governments around the world, including the Nigerian Government, protocols like testing frameworks undergo reviews and updates based on the prevailing situation at the time,” it stated.

The latest updated requirement mandated by the UAE government is that passengers travelling from Nigeria to Dubai are required to complete a Rapid COVID-19 test no more than 4 hours before departure, in addition to PCR tests done within 72 hours before departure at approved laboratories.

“Emirates is keen to ensure that flights between Nigeria and Dubai continue. We moved very quickly to ensure that RAPID COVID-19 testing facilities were ready in Abuja and Lagos for our passengers.

“Emirates would like to reiterate that the new testing requirements are in no way intended to single out Nigerian passengers, and that these measures are being followed to safeguard the health and safety of all those travelling, as mandated by the UAE government.

“Passengers travelling to Dubai from over 55 countries undergo similar measures, including a number of other African countries,” it added.

Experts predict when we’ll be able to travel again - THE INDEPENDENT UK

FEBRUARY 05, 2021

When can we travel again? That’s the million-dollar question that nobody seems able to answer.

International travel has been banned for all but the most essential reasons since the UK entered lockdown on 4 January, a move which has decimated the £106bn travel industry in Britain. And there’s nothing quite like staying at home for months on end to make you want to go somewhere. 

In January, home secretary Priti Patel drove the message home by saying that “people should simply not be travelling”, with passengers forced to make a declaration at the airport stating their reason for straying from home.

These are extraordinary times, but there’s hope that once a significant proportion of the UK is vaccinated against Covid-19, international leisure travel will be unlocked again. Nobody has a crystal ball, but some people are more clued in than others.

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One thing’s for sure: Covid-19 has changed the travel landscape as we knew it. Travellers might now require proof of vaccinations, or proof that they’ve had coronavirus recently and have the accompanying antibodies. Various countries across the world, including the Seychelles, Romania and Georgia, have said they will allow travellers who’ve had both doses of the vaccine to avoid quarantine.

We asked a handful of travel experts when they think we’ll be able to go abroad again. Some are fairly optimistic; some less so. All predictions come with a big caveat, as nobody knows anything for certain at the moment.

Here’s what they have to say.

Paul Charles, travel commentator and founder of travel PR firm PC Agency

Prediction: May

“I think the vaccine programme will boost confidence and reduce infection rates faster than we might think as we sit here in a dark winter month. Staycations will start again by the end of March; spring will bring warmer weather and reduced rates; and over 30 million people, half the population, will have been vaccinated with at least one dose. 

“Short-haul European breaks will be possible from May and this summer will be a more extended season than last year. Widespread long-haul travel will take much longer to materialise, as many countries won’t open up until 2022. So I predict travel will recover in 2021 but 2022 will be the comeback year.”

Jonny Bealby, founder of tour operator Wild Frontiers

Prediction: March

“With vaccine rollout continuing apace, by March we will see a reduction in Covid-related mortality figures, along with lower infection rates and much less pressure on the NHS, and as a result international travel will start to slowly reopen. We are looking at western European destinations opening first, which for us means Greece, Spain and Italy, to be followed by wider Europe and such destinations as Poland, Slovakia, Georgia and the Caucasus.

“From there, as more of the UK population receives both jabs, we’d expect to see a gradual return of some long-haul destinations from mid-summer through to the end of the year. A lot will depend on testing procedures, vaccine production and supply, and our own government’s appetite to get the industry going, but with a bit of luck I think we will be full steam ahead from early next year.”

Tom Marchant, co-founder of tour operator Black Tomato

Prediction: Summer

“While we obviously don’t have a crystal ball, at Black Tomato we’re working diligently to plan and deliver extraordinary, safe travel experiences for our clients seeking to head overseas beyond spring. Despite the current situation and newly tightened border restrictions, we’re encouraged by the vaccine rollout, which will hopefully offer peace of mind for travellers of all ages, and with summer holidays still six months away we remain cautiously optimistic that these long-wanted and much-needed breaks will still go ahead. 

We’re encouraged by the vaccine rollout, which will hopefully offer peace of mind for travellers of all ages, and with summer holidays still six months away we remain cautiously optimistic

“When speaking to clients we’re supporting the train of thought that overseas summer travel could very well still be on the cards. We certainly know there’s a huge appetite for international trips this year, evidenced by the large increase in bookings and enquiries we’ve recently received. Of course it’s still unclear as to which destinations we may or may not be allowed to travel to this summer.”

Alan French, UK chief executive at Thomas Cook

Prediction: May

“Given the success of the vaccine rollout so far, it feels like holidays to Europe in May are a distinct possibility. And certainly from June onwards we’d expect to see an increasing number of countries that we can holiday in as more and more places benefit from the vaccine and the better controls we have in place to manage the virus.”

Axel Hefer, CEO of Trivago

Prediction: Late spring

“As the UK has been on a faster pace rolling out the vaccine than the rest of Europe, we’ll likely see travel return quicker there than for the rest of the continent.

“As infections start to go down and more people get vaccinated, we are hopeful that close to Easter will be a crucial turning point for domestic travel in the UK, with travel abroad following that in the months ahead. Our recent survey found that for 34 per cent of Brits, their number one “dream holiday” would be the chance to reunite with friends and family. This desire among Britons will fuel a strong return to domestic travel before we see an uptick in international travel. There is reason for optimism about a strong return to travel later this year.”

Kerry Golds, managing director of Abercrombie & Kent and Cox & Kings

Prediction: Summer

“For many, the idea of going abroad is still unfathomable; however travellers are still dreaming of that next trip, so we remain positive and optimistic. Positive vaccine news has meant renewed consumer confidence. 

“It does however remain a million-dollar question: when can we venture on holiday again? It is no surprise that we predict that domestic breaks will return first in approximately May, with ease of travelling within the same country being paramount for many. This will be followed by Europe in the summer â€“ the need for sun and escapism will become a priority for travellers after months of lockdown and no holiday in 2020,  but the necessity to stay closer to home will take priority. We feel that the long-haul, more adventurous destinations  will take a little longer to return, with this not happening until late in the third quarter, so from September onwards.”

Zina Bencheikh, managing director, EMEA, Intrepid Travel

Prediction: May/June

“It’s too early to know for sure when we might be able to travel overseas again. However, if the UK’s vaccination programme is successful, I’m optimistic that by May or June we will be able to travel abroad once again.

“Many of us have spent lockdown dreaming of our next holiday, and there will be a lot of pent-up demand and not much capacity, so it would be wise to book early. It’s also important to book with a company that offers flexible booking conditions in case your plans have to change further down the line.

“The over-50s are likely to be the first people who feel confident to make travel plans and we have already seen an uplift in bookings from that market.  In terms of trips, I’d expect our UK and Europe tours to be the first to restart, and long-haul holidays later in the year.

“Tourism is vital for many countries in the world and many local people have lost their livelihoods due to the pandemic. The best thing we can do for those people is to start travelling again, in a safe and controlled manner.”

Pablo Caspers, Chief Travel Officer at eDreams ODIGEO

Prediction: July

“We can see from our search data that UK travellers are currently pinpointing July as the most popular month for travel over spring and summer 2021, with 37 per cent more people searching to travel in July than in May. 

“With vaccine programmes being rolled out across Europe, consumer confidence is progressively rebuilding. Of course, it is too early to know what travel will be permitted over the summer period, but what we can see right now is that UK travellers are keen to travel again, should this be safe.”

Covid-19: All passengers entering UK from ‘red list’ countries will be forced to quarantine in hotels - THE INDEPENDENT UK

FEBRUARY 05, 2021

BY  Richard Vaughan 

All passengers entering the UK from global Covid hotspots will be forced to quarantine in government-approved hotels from 15 February, ministers have announced.

a airplane that is flying in the sky: Travellers arriving in the UK from countries on the travel ban list will have to quarantine in a Government-approved hotel from 15 February (Photo: PA)© Provided by The i Travellers arriving in the UK from countries on the travel ban list will have to quarantine in a Government-approved hotel from 15 February (Photo: PA)

The move comes as Downing Street sought to quash mounting accusations that the tougher new border restrictions were facing serious delays and setbacks.

Officials are holding talks with their counterparts in Australia and New Zealand, where strict quarantine measures have been in place since last year, to develop the plans, with the full details due to be announced next week.

Labour wrote to Home Secretary Priti Patel demanding an explanation for the delays.

Tougher border measures

It followed claims that a legal problem is partly behind the Government’s delay in releasing details of how quarantine hotels will work.

The obstacle relates to enforcement of the tougher border measure, a Government source said. Officials are said to be confident of solving the problem, though a source said it would require laws to be tightened so that it applies to everyone.

a group of people standing around a plane: Tourists party on a yacht in Dubai, which is on the red list. (Photo: Getty)© Provided by The i Tourists party on a yacht in Dubai, which is on the red list. (Photo: Getty)

A Downing Street spokesman said: “We are continuing to work on the operational side and we will set out more detail next week.”

Under the plans, UK nationals and residents returning from “red list” countries will be kept in hotels for 10 days to slow the spread of new coronavirus strains. Currently they must self-isolate at home.

Plans criticised by hotel boss

Hotel chain Best Western’s chief executive Rob Paterson criticised the Government’s delay in releasing further details of how the new rules will work.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think in any normal company if you went out and announced a programme nationally, and you hadn’t thought about how you were going to plan that, and you hadn’t spoken to the people involved, I’m not sure I’d have a job if I did that in my company.”

‘Hotel quarantine’ plan to come into force on 15 February, after criticism of government delays - THE INDEPENDENT UK

FEBRUARY 05, 2021

The “hotel quarantine” plan will finally come into force on 15 February, amid rising criticism of government delays and bungling.

Anyone returning to the UK from a country on the banned ‘red list’ will be required to pay to isolate in government-supervised accommodation for 10 days.

However, the announcement did not contain any information about how passengers will book into their designated hotels, with “further details” to be set out next week.

a plane flying over a building© Provided by The Independent

Hotels near ports and airports have been “asked for proposals” on how they can join the scheme “ahead of formal contracts being awarded”, the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.

Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, will lead “cross-government efforts to deliver mandatory quarantine and enhanced testing” to tackle the threat from new variants of Covid-19.

The announcement appeared to have been rushed out after stinging criticism from the boss of the Best Western chain, who said hotels were still “in the dark” about what was planned.

It is 3 weeks since it was first revealed that hotels were being lined up for quarantining passengers – from high-risk areas only, it later emerged – and 8 days since the plan was confirmed.

Labour said it was “beyond comprehension that these measures won’t even start until 15 February” and repeated its calls for all arriving passengers to be quarantined.

Instead, the crackdown will apply to only the 33 ‘red list’ countries – mainly in Southern Africa and South America – from which travel is already banned.

That means only Britons returning to the UK will be affected, and required to pay an estimated £1,500 or more to stay in a room for 10 days.

“We are now working at pace to secure the facilities we need to roll out managed quarantine for British nationals returning home from the most high risk countries, and are rightly engaging with representatives from the hospitality, maritime and aviation industry, and learning from our friends around the world.”

The last point is a reference to talks Mr Hancock held with his counterpart in Australia – which has among the world’s toughest quarantine policies – with his staff also due to receive tips from officials in New Zealand.

Why Nigeria ranks top in global unserviceable airplane poll - THE GUARDIAN

FEBRUARY 05, 2021

• How poor funding, wrong equipment, zero maintenance facility populate boneyards
• Experts blame regulators, wrong business models

Nigeria has ranked top among countries with the highest number of unserviceable aircraft in global commercial aviation.

CH aviation, a Swiss-based firm that specialises in data and information gathering for global aviation operators, estimated that Nigeria, though with smaller industry, now ranks higher than Germany, United Kingdom, Argentina, and Malaysia in the top countries with the highest number of retired airplanes.

 
Findings by The Guardian showed that the high toll of abandoned or retired aircraft in airports nationwide earned Nigeria the unenviable top spot. This is not unconnected with operators’ penchant for the cheaper middle-range jet engine aircraft type, which often turns out to be a wrong choice, in the long run, coupled with the lack of maintenance facility to support the aircraft and ease the burden of the cost locally.
 
Experts did not spare the quality of regulatory oversight and wrong business models used by some operating carriers for the waste. They queried the regulatory body for not, as a policy, insisting on a smaller aircraft type that fits the peculiarity of the Nigerian environment, over the popular middle-range jets that are most ideal for regional operations.

The 2021 CH report of 10 countries with the most unserviceable aircraft has Nigeria polling 69.2 per cent. Next is Germany, 51.2 per cent. Others include the United Kingdom, Argentina and Malaysia.

 
Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, who also referenced the CH aviation report recently, said one of the reasons for Nigeria having more airplanes in the graveyard than in the skyline was due to poor funding of the airlines to run well and do maintenance as and when due.
 
But partly due to poor funding, Sirika said, the norm is for aircraft that are due for maintenance and engine change to be on the ground for months without end.
 
He added that the choice of equipment that is deployed, getting professionals in the industry and allowing them to work as they should, all determine the profitability and sustenance of the business – both of which are rare in the local operating environment.

“There is no way you (operator) can compete and compare yourself with the airlines that are properly kitted with the right type of equipment – talk of aircraft that consumes less fuel, requires less maintenance, the cheaper premium on insurance and quite simple to operate for the pilot – when you do not have the right type of aircraft.
 
“The request is, those of you that decide to put your money in civil aviation, kindly seek professional advice and invest your money where you will be properly advised. It is not as easy as you see it. Aviation is not 140 passengers by N40, 000 to Kano. No!
 
“This is a precise industry with minimum margin, and highly volatile. It is an industry that you need to understand. Being a pilot or engineer like me does not give you the right to understand the market, the business and civil aviation. You need to partake, acquire the knowledge, feel it, eat it and live it.”
 
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) estimated that more than 50 registered airlines have bit the dust in the last three decades, with the carcass of their erstwhile operations visible across airports.

Besides, the local scheduled carriers, of which nine are in operation, operate more Boeing737 aircraft types because they are offered at giveaway prices in Europe, yet arguably not the most suitable or profitable for the Nigerian environment.
 
According to experts, the Boeing series are not fuel-efficient, and very expensive to maintain, which explains why global airlines phase them out to acquire the latest range of more efficient aircraft.
 
Chief Operating Officer of a local airline said “between an old Boeing 737 jet that costs $1.5 million and new aircraft that cost more than twice or thrice, which will you buy? Most airline owners are going for the cheaper Boeing because they are like giveaway offers; buy-one-get-one-free.
 
“Yes, it looks likewise investment and it runs for between one or two years. When it is time for maintenance – C-check costs between $2 million to $3 million per aircraft – that is when it dawned on them that they have made the wrong investment. Instead of paying so much for maintenance, why not just abandon the aircraft and buy another one? That is the dominant mindset among our operators.”

Besides, the Boeing series are middle-range aircraft that do better on regional two-to-four flight cycle. (A cycle is the operation of an engine from take-off to landing). But given the small size of the Nigerian landscape and comparative low traffic, the maximum flight time is about the one-hour per cycle. 

 
Former president of the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), Isaac Balami, affirmed that Nigerian carriers had been using the medium-range aircraft for short-haul domestic flights, describing it as the bane of unaffordable cost of maintenance, business failure and a high number of unserviceable aircraft.
Balami, an engineer and CEO of 7 Stars Global Hangar, said he was not surprised by the rating, given that Nigeria accounts for 80 per cent of all aircraft in the West and Central African region, majority of which are the Boeing series.
 
“The problem is flight-cycle and maintenance requirements. The aircraft engine and maintenance schedule are measured by the flight-cycle. Lagos-Abuja is less than one hour, compared to other countries that use Boeing737 for three or four-hour flight duration. I was on a Boeing jet engine from Abuja to Jos for just a 21 minutes flight-cycle. And once you have reached your flight-cycle number, irrespective of the hours flown or passenger traffic, you must go for maintenance.”

An airline like Overland Airways uses small aircraft like the ATR turboprop aircraft, which is deemed the right type for local operations. Aero Contractors and Arik Air have some Dash-8 and turboprops. Air Peace is acquiring Embraer 145 jets of about 50 passenger seats – all of which are the right equipment for short-hauls and easy to fill up on low traffic routes.

 
Balami observed that part of the problem is that the average Nigerian traveller is over-pampered with the more comfortable Boeing jets than less-fancied smaller aircraft that are the norm in domestic operations globally.
 
“First Nation (now defunct) was operating one-hour Lagos-Abuja flights with Airbus that ordinarily should do an average of four or five-hour flight non-stop. By the time maintenance is due, then there is a big problem. I think Nigerians should get used to the smaller aircraft types like the ATR. They are safer and cost-effective than Boeing.
 
“In the days of Nigeria Airways, pilots were type-rated on Boeing737 and people also got used to jet engines. It was okay to fly Boeing then because Nigeria Airways had no competition so it was profitable. Private airlines that came upstream after Nigeria Airways poached pilots that had already been trained on Boeing. So they went for such aircraft type too. On Boeing, if you have 50 per cent load factor, you are running at a loss, but on the likes of Embraer-145, Dash 8 and ATR, you are just fine and in business.”

Salami said further that it was regrettable that the government has not deemed it fit to establish a Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility in Nigeria in the whole of 60 years of independence.

He said efforts by the private sector to establish the critical facility to support both airlines and the industry had been frustrated by government policies and refusal of banks to support the venture.
 
Chairman of Air Peace airlines, Allen Onyema, said his preference for Embraer 145 and brand new E195-E2 jets was not to imply that used aircraft were unsafe but to meet emerging local and regional demands.

Onyema said that the main problem of airline operators is the high cost of aircraft maintenance, to which he proffered an adjustment in the applicable regulation.

“The burden of maintenance is enormous and the capital flight is huge, depleting the resources of the country. I would like to appeal for a review of the regulations on C-checks because the manufacturers go by hours – 4000 hours before you go for maintenance. In Nigeria, they will tell you 18 months or at most 24 months. That is not good enough for aircraft utilisation when it is by hours flown elsewhere,” he said.

  
Findings show that average aircraft can fly for between 25 and 30 years before retirement. Globally, geriatric aircraft are kept in a storage facility (with minimal maintenance), gradually stripped of their over 350,000 individual components for sale, while remains are melted for scrap metal.
 
Recent trend is to keep the plane fairly intact and recycled for tourism and hospitality purposes. A Swedish businessman, for instance, turned a Boeing 747 into a hotel in a parking lot at Arlanda Airport in Stockholm, Sweden. The hotel has 25 rooms and one suite in the cockpit. 

Geriatric airplanes in Nigeria are hardly treated accordingly because owner-airlines collapsed and are subject to prolonged litigation. Most of their aircraft got abandoned and rot away in the process.
  
Aviation security consultant, Group Capt. John Ojikutu (rtd), said the oddly familiar rating was an indictment on the regulatory agencies that have a statutory responsibility to safety and routine audit of all operators, including aircraft flown by carriers.
 
Ojikutu said there are about 100 aircraft in Nigerian local industry that would require a yearly audit, maintenance and inspections. “But does the regulator have sufficient manpower to do this and even ensure that they (operators) are not cutting corners? In the past, Dr. Demuren (former NCAA DG) had to look for professionals from outside to do this for him and establish the true state of things.
 
“For me, the solution is with the NCAA. Air Peace is doing the right thing with the acquisition of Embraer jets. The industry should leverage on this right path and get things right,” Ojikutu said.

Lagos govt to phase out yellow buses - PUNCH

FEBRUARY 05, 2021

BY  Joseph Olaoluwa

The Lagos State Government says it plans to phase out yellow buses in accordance with its transportation masterplan of the state.

Commissioner for Transportation, Dr Frederic Oladeinde, said this in a virtual forum on Thursday, adding that the busses would be replaced by blue buses.

The virtual forum was titled ‘Transport and traffic conference’.


He said, “We are reforming the bus sector and over time, Lagos will phase out the yellow buses because the yellow buses are not conducive for a mega city like Lagos. That is why we are coming with blue buses you see around.

“We are inviting the private sector to participate in the provision of public transport services. We are also deploying technology just to ensure that we can up our game in terms of efficiency.”

Responding to questions raised regarding the Apapa gridlock, the commissioner said the government was committed to ending the traffic menace by committing hectares of land in Iganmu and Ogun as transit truck parks while relying on the Eto app which would be deployed on February 27.

He said, “Lagos State in collaboration with the Nigerian Ports Authority invited a concessionaire and that concessionaire developed an Eto app that will be deployed February 27.

“Lagos State has committed 31 hectares of land in Iganmu called the Bola Ahmed Tinubu Truck Park to complement what is at Lilypond and we are talking to the Ogun State Government to secure a land in Ogere.”

Similarly, Oladeinde said, the state had come up with a parking strategy named the Lagos State Parking Strategy. He disclosed that a parking authority had been set up with the mandate to regulate parking on the roads.

Travel agencies protest COVID-19 rapid test regime at airports - THE GUARDIAN

FEBRUARY 05, 2021

By Wole Oyebade


*Foreign airlines explain extra measures, seek cooperation

Travel operators, Wednesday, kicked against the new COVID-19 antigen tests among other safety measures now imposed by some foreign airlines plying the Nigerian route.

The operators flayed the additional discomfort and extra cost imposed on the travelling public in Nigeria alone, describing them as exploitative.

The airlines earlier explained that the additional test measures were due to rampant cases of fake COVID-19 test results coming from Nigeria.

The Guardian reported that international carriers have begun enforcement of fresh safety protocols much to the discomfort of Nigerian travellers.

The national carriers of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Netherlands, Emirates and KLM, respectively, have begun conducting mandatory antigen tests on Nigerian passengers, in addition to the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test approved by the Federal Government and the global standard.

The test costs additional N25, 800 per traveller at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja, and N36, 800 at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos.

Chairman of the Airline Passenger Joint Committee (APJC), Bankole Bernard, said Emirates and co. had no fault in disrespecting Nigerian travellers, but for the Federal Government that has refused to live up to the billing.

Bernard said he was not unaware of the fake test result claims, but it is the exclusive responsibility of the government to rid the system of saboteurs.

“I believe the government should live up to its responsibility, except they are saying that we all in Nigeria do not matter. Dubai is bothered. Hence, they are mandating two-test procedures and making money from the travelling public. But that is completely unacceptable and sheer irresponsibility on our part.

“My question is, are we that corrupt in Nigeria and useless that we create only problems for everyone in the world? What measures has the government put in place to sanitise our system? The National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) gave approval for the new tests to be conducted in two airports, without the knowledge of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and other stakeholders in aviation. What does NCDC know about the travel market? So, it is not the fault of Emirates at all,” Bernard said.

Similarly, President of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), Susan Akporiaye, said operators found the new test regime and stealthy confinement of Dubai-bound Nigerian travellers to Emirates Airlines alone, as quite disturbing.

She said: “We are worried, and call on the Minister of Aviation to help intervene and interrogate this development. We appreciate the efforts of governments and airlines to help secure the lives of passengers and also protect their citizens, which NANTA supports in all ramifications but this additional requirement from Dubai airport Authority and Emirates are far-flung and we crave for better arrangements, possibly involving other stakeholders. In this pandemic situation, no man is an island.”

Emirates, in response to our inquiries, stated that they were keen to ensure that flights between Nigeria and Dubai continue.

“We moved very quickly to ensure that rapid COVID-19 testing facilities were ready in Abuja and Lagos for our passengers.

“Emirates would like to reiterate that the new testing requirements are in no way intended to single out Nigerian passengers and that these measures are being followed to safeguard the health and safety of all those travelling, as mandated by the UAE government. Passengers travelling to Dubai from over 55 countries undergo similar measures, including a number of other African countries.

“Emirates is also not discriminating against Nigerians transiting via other African countries. Passengers in transit are unable to meet the rapid COVID-19 test requirements, which are currently available in Abuja and Lagos.

“Emirates hopes to continue our dialogue with the Nigerian authorities to ensure that we can carry on with our services and provide much-needed connectivity, and make air travel more accessible for our customers.”

Director-General and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Alexandre de Juniac, said everyone could feel the pinch of new restrictions, but the way out is a better partnership among the stakeholders.

“I don’t think that anyone foresees a world free from COVID-19 anytime soon. Certainly, not in the next months or even within this year. But our ability to manage the risk is increasing as more people get vaccinated and testing capacity expands.

“Eventually, we will be at a point where these and other measures give governments the reassurance that the risk of re-starting our lives—including travel—is tolerable, recognising also the significant social and economic benefits that are at stake.

“We are eager to work with governments as partners to understand what the benchmarks and conditions will be for a decision to give people back their freedom of movement. A functioning aviation industry will add vital momentum to the economic recovery. Indeed, without aviation, a recovery is likely not possible. We have all seen far too many stories of the terrible job losses and human suffering across the travel and tourism sector. So-called “staycations” and local tourism are not the answer. Only aviation will be able to energise a recovery,” de Juniac said.

African Airlines Post 69.8% Fall in Traffic - THISDAY

FEBRUARY 05, 2021

African airlines recorded 69.8 per cent fall in traffic in 2020, adjudged the worst year for passenger traffic in decades. This was disclosed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), in its full-year global passenger traffic results for 2020. The report showed that demand (revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) fell by 65.9 per cent, compared to the full year of 2019.

International passenger demand in 2020 was 75.6 per cent below 2019 levels. Capacity, (measured in available seat kilometers or ASKs) declined 68.1 per cent and load factor fell 19.2 percentage points to 62.8 per cent.

Also, domestic demand in 2020 was down 48.8 per cent compared to 2019. Capacity contracted by 35.7 per cent and load factor dropped 17 percentage points to 66.6 per cent. It showed that as of December 2020, total traffic was 69.7 per cent, below the same month in 2019. Capacity was down 56.7 per cent and load factor fell 24.6 percentage points to 57.5 per cent.

Bookings for future travel made in January 2021 were down 70 per cent, compared to a year-ago, putting further pressure on airline cash positions and potentially impacting the timing of the expected recovery. IATA’s baseline forecast for 2021 was for a 50.4 per cent improvement on 2020 demand, “that would bring the industry to 50.6 per cent of 2019 levels.”

“While this view remains unchanged, there is a severe downside risk if more severe travel restrictions in response to new variants persist. Should such a scenario materialise, demand improvement could be limited to just 13 per cent over 2020 levels, leaving the industry at 38 per cent of 2019 levels.”

How To Apply For Canada's Start-Up Visa From Nigeria - IMMIGRATION CANADA

FEBRUARY 05, 2021

Nigeria is a leader for entrepreneurship with more technology hubs than any other country in Africa and booming with start-ups that could benefit from access to Canadian and American markets through Canada’s Start-Up Visa program.

In its Global Start-up Ecosystem Report 2019, the Startup Genome research and advisory organization listed Lagos, Nigeria as one of the most likely places in the world to become a Top 30 tech hub to lead a Silicon Valley-like, albeit smaller, tech boom in the next few years. 

“The Nigerian start-up ecosystem is on the move,” notes VC4A, a Nigerian start-up support organization. “It is a leading hub for entrepreneurship on the continent thanks to several strengths, including a growing number of engaging international investors, a huge population with access to technology, and a growing number of start-up support organizations active in the ecosystem.”

That explosive growth in tech companies in Nigeria comes as Canadian companies are poised for major growth in the digitization of their operations in the post-COVID-19 world.  

“The number one priority for Canadian businesses in 2021 is digital resiliency and our predictions reflect that priority,” says Tony Olvet, International Data Corporation’s group vice-president of research.

“The pandemic caused an accelerated move to digital technologies and services in large part to serve customers and support employees in new ways. But as business and IT leaders look ahead to the post-pandemic economy, we don’t expect them to go back to the old ways of doing business,” he says. “Digital investments will continue, and the notion of resiliency will remain high on the executive agenda.”

International Data Corporation is forecasting that Canadian organizations will accelerate the digitization of their workflow two to three times faster than the automation of their physical environment in the coming year. By the end of 2021, half of Canadian large enterprises are expected to be using artificial intelligence for process and workflow automation.

That means there is a great deal of opportunity for Nigerian entrepreneurs who want to come to Canada and start up a business under Canada’s Start-Up Visa program.

Budding entrepreneurs who want to benefit by starting businesses in Canada through the Start-Up Visa program can get Canadian permanent residence if they qualify as immigrant entrepreneurs. 

Under the Canada Start-Up Visa program, three types of private-sector investors are considered: angel investors, venture capital funds, and business incubators. A designated venture capital fund must confirm that it is investing at least $200,000 into the qualifying business.

Candidates can also qualify with two or more commitments from designated venture capital funds totalling $200,000. A designated angel investor group must invest at least $75,000 into the qualifying business.

Candidates can also qualify with two or more investments from angel investor groups totalling $75,000. A designated business incubator must accept the applicant into its business incubator program. It is up to the immigrant investor to develop a viable business plan that will meet the due diligence requirements of these government-approved designated entities.

That’s usually done with the help of business consultants in Canada’s start-up ecosystem with oversight from experienced corporate business immigration lawyers who can ensure a start-up’s business concept meets all industry-required terms and conditions.

Candidates applying under the Start-Up Visa program can initially come to Canada on a work permit supported by their designated Canadian investor before their application for permanent residence is finalized. 

The basic government-imposed candidate eligibility requirements for the Start-Up Visa program are:

  • a qualifying business; 
  • a commitment certificate and letter of support from a designated entity; 
  • sufficient unencumbered, available and transferable settlement funds to meet settlement funding, and; 
  • proficiency in English or French at the minimum Canadian Language Benchmark level 5.  However, it frequently occurs that higher levels of English are needed to meet due diligence requirements imposed by designated entities.

Ottawa does not give financial support to new Start-Up Visa immigrants. When candidates apply, they need to show evidence they have the finances to support themselves and their dependents in Canada. This money cannot be borrowed. 

Additionally, it often occurs that candidates will need to show additional, sufficient funding to meet start-up costs of their business project, as a condition of investment by a designated entity (VC or Angel). 

This is an area where experienced legal consulting will prove invaluable. The amount of settlement funding needed depends on the size of the candidate’s family. 

Settlement Funds Needed Under Start-Up Visa Program

Number of family membersFunds required
1$12,960
2$16,135
3$19,836
4$24,083
5$27,315
6$30,806
7$34,299
* Each additional family member$3,492

Certainly, the Start-Up Visa program is growing in popularity. In 2019, the total number of new permanent resident approved admissions reached 510, more than double the 250 welcomed in 2018. The figures have been increasing steadily over the last five years.

New Permanent Residents Through Start-Up Visa Program

The Start-Up Visa program also represents an important option for international students, many of whom do not qualify for permanent residence through the skilled worker immigration streams. While Ottawa has taken steps to gear up the Express Entry system to favour international students, they are by no means guaranteed to qualify for a coveted Invitation to Apply under the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS).

The minimum score needed to qualify has often been over 470, leaving many students unable to qualify even with the support of a job offer from a Canadian employer. These candidates can either sit in the Express Entry pool and hope the minimum score under the CRS falls or they can make the transition from temporary to permanent residence. This is where the Start-Up Visa program becomes an option.

Unlike almost every other federal and provincial-level entrepreneur program which requires a minimum of one or two years of previous experience either owning a business or in top-level management, the Start-Up Visa program does not require previous management experience. 

The support of a government-designated entity is enough. And that support can be either financial or in the form of accepting the candidate into a business incubator program. Immigrants who avail themselves of the Start-Up Visa program consistently report that it is quick, both for the initial work permit and permit residence application.

Letter of Support

With a viable start-up business project, an immigrant entrepreneur can expect it to take about four to six months to secure a commitment certificate or letter of support from a designated entity. Once that letter of support is received, the application for permanent residence can be submitted.

It will then take approximately 18-months to finalize the application through to the issuance of a permanent residence visa.  For the candidate to qualify for permanent residence: 

  • The intended business must be incorporated and carrying on business in Canada;
  • The candidate must own at least 10 per cent of the voting rights in the corporation, and;
  • No other person can hold 50 per cent or more of the voting rights in the corporation.

As many as five candidates can have their permanent residence application supported by the same business investment.  But that can come with a risk. Certain candidates may be designated as essential to the business. If any of the essential candidates withdraw their applications or are refused, all other candidates under the same business investment will see their applications terminated.

Surveys suggest Start-Up Visa candidates usually go on to succeed in Canada, in terms of growing their business, attracting further investment, networking or selling their business for a profit.

Through its Toronto based facilities, Immigration.ca works extensively with industry-acclaimed designated entities in the Canadian start-up ecosystem. The firm provides a range of hands-on business advisory services to help intending entrepreneur immigrants and their start-up business concept meet all industry requirements.


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